My 5 Favorite Face Masks + Ones I Want to Try.

By: Jen Shoop

*Image of Joan Small above from Mario Testino’s celebrated towel series.

I often apply a face mask while getting ready for an evening out. The four below are the ones I most often reach for —

Clarins Lift Affine V-Facial Intensive Wrap. I wrote a full review here, but my love for this mask has only deepened with time and use. I often do not even think I look particularly puffy or bloated, but this mask somehow depuffs and chisels my features with every use. It is unreal! I often use this from my cheeks/nose down to my neck (you are supposed to avoid the eye area) and a different mask on my forehead, which seems to me does not benefit as much from de-puffing action.

Origins Rose Clay Retexturizing Mask. I am in general drawn to masks that harden and then must be removed with warm water. I think anyone who came of age in the 90s remembers the Julep mask (which must have recently gotten rebranded — remember the OG bottle with green mint leaves on the front?), which was my first experience with a facial mask and I assume the same to be true of many of you. (Incidentally, this mask is still pretty good! I had occasion to test it a few years ago and was impressed!). Anyhow, ever since, the experience of leaving a clay-like substance to harden and then be wiped away with a warm washcloth = synonymous with self-care. I just love the feeling. The Origins formula is fantastic and leaves skin baby soft and slightly flushed, as I mentioned earlier this week. This is the mask I nearly always use on my forehead while Clarins is working its magic on the cheeks and below. BTW, you can score a 1 oz size to test for only $8 at OffFifth. (Toss in cart when buying a faux-diamond band for your next travel excursion.)

Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask. For the reasons outlined above, I love a clay mask, and this one is my second favorite (just behind Origins). I tend to use it when I want a deep and thorough clean feel, whereas the Origins mask just seems to smooth and soften skin in general. Fresh’s formula makes me feel as though my entire face has been totally scrubbed clean, pores and all.

Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Face Mask. Ladies, run. This has been SO hard to find (discontinued?) and I just found a cache of it at Zulily. This actually might be my favorite face mask of all time simply because I use it so frequently. I often wear it to bed when my skin is feeling dry and dull. It is super-gentle and super-effective. My favorite overnight treatment! It is ultra-hydrating and rejuvenating and it smells like heaven. I have given this as a gift to at least three or four women I love. I know many of you are also mega fans — RUN!

Kate Somerville Exfolikate. (Currently 20% off with code!). OK, this is not exactly a mask — it is described as “a two-minute facial” — but you can leave it on your face for up to two minutes and it’s a dream for breathing life back into dull skin. It is bracing, refreshing, toning. This is your best bet for a quick pick-me-up for a dinner date when short on time. For some reason, this brand and this product were all the rage maybe five years ago and it’s sort of gone quiet since. It is SO good though!

There are also a couple of face masks I want to try that have been sitting in my shopping cart for a long time —

Chantecaille Bio-Lifting Face Mask. At the very top of my lust-list, as it has been recommended the world over. It purports to solve for wrinkles and fine lines. I find this brand to be very expensive but very effective.

Malin + Goetz Detox Face Mask. This is one of those cult-favorite products I’ve heard mentioned countless times — apparently it fizzes slightly and leaves a squeaky-clean-to-the-pores feeling. I’m so intrigued!

Leah Lani Meli Glow. I’ve read about this now a few times — it apparently smells like a tropical smoothie and leaves skin impossibly glowing, illuminated, and hydrated. I also love that this is a female-founded small business.

REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask. This is more of a treatment than a mask, but apparently it really turns on the lights in your skin. I have been intrigued by this clean beauty brand for awhile — I know a few of my friends are huge devotees.

What about you? Any must-try face masks you want to throw into the ring here?

P.S. My other top recs for getting ready before a night out: Eberjey romper and Weezie SS robe — I hate the feeling of sweating while blowing my hair, and these two are my go-tos for staying cool. I love that the Weezie robe has short sleeves that don’t always get in the way while I’m blow-drying or washing my face. That said, this HHH robe has been sitting in my cart in that pretty trellis floral print as we head towards cooler weather…so fluffy and darling! I also swear by these DryBar hair clips for sectioning hair while drying, these for keeping hair out of face while applying makeup (do not cause any kinks/creases in hair!), and of course my Revlon One Step, which continues to be one of my favorite discoveries of the past five years. I literally HATED drying my hair and would often just give up and let it airdry and then feel unkempt, and this transformed all of that for me. Best $40 I’ve spent in a long, long time. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere but my only gripe is that I find it difficult to achieve volume with — I get a great smooth, straight blowout with it, but not much oomph. I’ve been playing around with these hot rollers over the last few weeks — after I blow dry, I section a couple of the areas right around the top of my head and wrap them in hot rollers for about ten minutes. I’m actually really impressed with what I’m able to do with the bangs part of my hair (i.e., the top section of my hair, right along the part) now with the hot rollers, but the rest is still a work in progress.

P.P.S. How do you take care of yourself?

P.P.P.S. Remember my dilemma about what to do for counter stools in our new home? We decided we are going to wait to invest in something while working with our interior designer and bought these in the great stormy blue color as a stop-gap, as we really needed a place to perch at the end of the island, and they are inexpensive (2 for $140!) and arrive in two days. They’ll go great with the blue and white striped kitchen rug/runner set I bought (I bought the 2×3 size for in front of the sink and the 2×7 size for in front of the range/stove). You can’t beat the price for a little colorful face lift in the kitchen! Also, we did end up buying the Ume soap dispenser for our kitchen sink, which at first I thought might look a little modern, but Mr. Magpie loved the style and the fact that it won some design awards, and on second glance, I realized it did kind of work on top of our white farmhouse sink!

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18 thoughts on “My 5 Favorite Face Masks + Ones I Want to Try.

  1. Coming back here to say — I just remembered Caudalie’s instant detox mask! This post inspired me to dig around my bathroom cabinet because I knew I hadn’t used it in months. I used it last night and my skin felt so good! It’s also a clay-based mask, but I find it to be not as harsh as some as the other ones — though admittedly my skin is quite sensitive.

    I also wanted to share this tip I learned — 2 aestheticians in 2 separate places told me this. (On that note, I miss facials! Have not gotten one since COVID started).

    Particularly if you have dry (lacking in oil) or dehydrated (lacking in water) skin — mine is the latter — I was told it is better to not let masks dry out and harden, especially if your skin generally feels too dry and tight after a mask. When they applied a mask on me, they were spritzing my face with some kind of facial mist to keep the mask slightly damp — I couldn’t remember what product it was exactly but something like a rosewater mist or very mild toner would work. Thought I’d share this here in case anyone has similar skin issues, and also as we head into the colder season when we really need our skin to hold on to moisture!

    1. Oo – this is a great tip! Thank you! I’m not familiar with that Caudalie mask but that brand is excellent.


  2. Hi Jen,

    I was checking out Ulta’s 21 days of beauty sale and saw that the Origins mask you like is going to be 50% on Wednesday (9/1). 🙂

  3. I wish I could dedicate time to using face masks. This round-up might be just the right nudge! I do like the idea of a “leave-in” mask for sleep.

    Have you tried this product called a “gommage”? I first learned about it when I had a facial a few years ago. The brand the aesthetician used was Yon-Ka Paris. I ended up buying a tube afterwards. You slather it on, wait a minute, then start rubbing gently and it acts like an “eraser” to exfoliate! You can actually see it flaking off (so you have to do it over your sink as it can be messy). To be honest it’s one of those slightly gross but strangely satisfying things. 🙂 But my skin is SO smooth after, for very little time!

    1. Oo so cool! Had not heard of this before. Will look into it — it does sound satisfying (and effective).


  4. I haven’t been a big face mask person in years — the last ones I tried were Glossier’s when they first launched like 6 years ago (!! — and I found them to be ‘meh’) — but the Clarins mask has me officially intrigued! I think I need to try it out. I have also had many a Malin + Goetz product over the years and have always enjoyed them, so that mask has my eye as well!

    So funny about the St. Ives memory — I loved using that mask as a teenager! I also have fond memories of a charcoal Boscia peel-away mask from my early 20s, pre-Glossier 🙂


    1. Oh yes! Those Boscia masks! Definitely remember those! The Clarins is definitely worth a try. Seriously it is unlike anything else…


  5. Ok, just ordered the Clarins mask! At 47, I do often see that if I have wine the night before, I tend to look puffy in the face. Honestly, 40 was the turning point for me for metabolism, puffiness, etc. So, thank you for the recommendation! I cannot wait to try. Love the tip on your other thread/review from a commenter to leave it on for 45 minutes before going out. xo

    1. Yay, Heather! Hope you love it as much as I do. I also have been leaving it on for longer per the commenter’s suggestion and similarly love the results!


  6. I LOVE the Malin + Goetz! It does bubble and sort of fizz, making it feel like it’s pulling all the impurities out. Very satisfying!
    The REN is also great, very brightening but my all time favorite is the Tata Harper resurfacing mask. The first time I used it, I walked out of the bathroom post mask and John literally said WHOA! What did you just do?? It’s so amazing, and happily, one of her less expensive products! 🙂 XO

    1. Ahh! So interesting to read the multiple takes on Tata Harper. Some of us love it and some of us are sort of “smeh” on it. I wonder if it has to do with skin type?? So glad it works for you though — so satisfying to find a product that REALLY delivers.


  7. I have started putting raw turmeric honey on my face once a week and it’s fantastic! Clearer skin, less blackheads, and exfoliation, all for $14 at your local gourmet grocery.

  8. My all-time favorite mask is Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask. I’ve used it for years now & it’s such a treat. Leaves you glowing. A tipI I got from one of her facialists during a treatment was to layer the mask over the brand’s Regenerating Cleanser (which I also have been using for a long time) and let it sit over the cleanser for about 10-15 minutes then wash it off. I do that once or twice a week and love the results.

    1. Hi Marty! So interesting on the layering piece — I tried that mask and the results didn’t blow me away but I’m curious if I’d feel differently if I used the cleanser beneath!! Thanks for sharing this tip!


  9. Yes, Exfolikate is the best! I stopped using it years ago because it doesn’t have a great “clean” score…but may need to reintroduce it anyway. I have also used and loved Juice Beauty green apple peel, especially since they have a pregnancy safe version. I also once treated myself to a multipack sampler of Tata Harper masks, but was a bit underwhelmed for the price (and social media hype). Definitely going to add some masks to my fall routine! Thanks for the push.

    1. Hi! You know, it’s so funny — people seem to either love or shrug at Tata Harper’s mask. Marty (another commenter here) swears by it, as does Grace Atwood, whose skincare recs I find to be spot-on. However, I had the same experience — I LOVE (!!!) Tata’s regenerating cleanser but felt like the mask did not do much. Let me know if you end up trying any good masks!


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